The MGA With An Attitude
BALL JOINT Length and Cross Reference List - SR-109A

Steering tie rod ends lead a rough life on the MGA, down close to the road with lots of mechanical agitation while driving. Over time they they may lose a grease seal, wear out, and need replacement. These parts will have a better chance for long term survival if they have a grease fitting (as original) for attention with periodic chassis lubrication.

tie rod end Click for larger picture. Notice under the 90 degree grease fitting there is a thin steel cup washer and a fiber washer. Under the metal cup washer there is a shallow slot in the ball housing (just visible at edge of the metal washer). This slot connects with a small vent hole. Purpose of this arrangement is to allow grease to escape if too much grease is injected during lubrication, so it doesn't blow off the rubber boot. This also assures that the joint is full of grease to exclude any infiltration of water, and it may help maintain integrity of lubrication for a while longer if the rubber boot might be damaged.

Early production MGA did not have the vent hole in the ball housing. The ball joint design was changed beginning at (c)55545 RHD and (c)55875 LHD. Earlier ball joints can be modified to match the later parts using a Belville spring cup washer and a special fiber washer. The fiber washer has a shoulder with small pilot diameter extension within the ID of the cup washer. This shoulder controls exact amount of compression of the cup washer to maintain the vent space underneath. The pliable fiber washer also allows indexing (orientation) of the 90-degree grease fitting to point forward and inboard for convenience of lubrication. Refer to Confidential Service Memorandum MG-229 and MG-233 for details of this design change and possible modification.

Steering tie rod end for all MGA
  Socket assembly - ball	    ACH6168  J29		
  | Boot (rubber)                   7H3571   J30
  | Clip for boot                   7H3565   J31
  | Ring for boot clip              ACA6004  J32
  | Washer for ball socket          PWZ107   J33  Plain Washer 7/16
  | Nut for ball socket             FNZ407   J34  Flat Nut 7/16-20
  | Lubricator for ball socket      UHN405   J36
  | Washer for lubricator (dished)  ACH6170  J37
  | Washer for lubricator (fibre)   ACH6173  J38
I have driven my MGA long enough to appreciate that this ball joint should have a grease fitting. The original tie rod ends with greaser lasted about a quarter million miles, and I believe they only wore out after the rubber boot failed. The replacement parts without a greaser lasted about 100,000 miles before one of them was shot, and no way to save it without any facility for re-lubrication. Some common replacement parts from many well known British car parts suppliers may have no grease fitting (as well as being too long and needing to be modified during installation). "Lubed for life" only means the life ends when the lubrication fails, and you then get to throw it away and buy another one (plus cost and inconvenience of installation). My new replacements are definitely going to have a grease fitting, as well as being the correct size so not to need modification (even if I have to pay a little more for them).

Following is a reference list of part numbers for this ball end from various sources. Local auto parts stores may cross feference toa different part number (or to their own company part number). For the parts that are too long you may refer to special instructions for modification of the part before installation. The Beck/Arnley part is widely available on line. Put any of these part numbers into an internet search engine.

BMC MGA (SPL) 	  ACH6168
Austin            8G8452
Austin/MG         GSJ169
Beck/Arnley       101-0420
Borg & Beck       BTR4004 (may be too long)?
Delphi            TA168
EAN               50 12759 85140 1
First Line        FTR4004 (may be too long)?
MG Parts UK       BEK040 (may be too long)?
Monroe            L0290 (may be too long)?
Moog              RO-ES-2013
Moprod            MTR290
Moss Motors US    263-288 (pr) (definitely too long, no zerk)
Motaquip          VTR116
Powertrain        PSTR29
Quinton Hazell    QR290S  (no zerk)?
Quinton Hazell    QR290PR (no zerk)?
Rover             88G414
Rover             8G8452
Rover             GSJ169
Triscan           8500 290 (may be too long)?
Veco              VB348
Victoria British  5-105 (pr) (definitely too long, no zerk)
    Applications list: (surely not all inclusive)
Austin Healey Sprite Mk1 (Bugeye), Mk2, Mk3: 1958-1971
MG Midget Mk1, Mk2, Mk3: 1961-early 1972 (up to car# GAN5/114642)
MGA: 1955-1962 (All models)
MG Magnette ZA: 1956 Only
MG Magnette ZB: 1957-1958
Morris Minor 1000: 1959-1971
Morris Oxford, Cowley, Isis: 1955-1959

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